By Marianna Tugareva
Valentino’s doing it. Alberta Ferretti’s doing it. Even Zara’s doing it: embroidery is hot right now, not just because it’s beautiful, but because each stitch is like a brush stroke contributing to a masterpiece from a long-forgotten age. But most modern embroidery is sadly either done by machine, poorly paid women in sweatshops, or worse – by children in developing countries.
Fortunately, there are some designers who are reviving this lost craft by producing ethical, vegan fashion collections that ensure all those who are involved in their construction are given a fair wage.
Let’s follow these designers on a journey to infuse some lost enchantment to our everyday clothes with the magic of ethical embroidery.
Mochi’s Dubai-based brand’s founder, Ayah Tabari, is on a mission to save artisan communities around the world from extinction. She believes that if a skill isn’t used and passed down through the generations, it’s lost forever. Mochi has gathered a full fashion library on the history of embroidery in countries ranging from Hungary and Thailand to Spain and India. In particular, the elegant Palestine collection is simply irresistible; its geometric patterns symbolize “hope, prosperity and protection”, as the Palestinian-born founder says with pride.
The sustainable luxury brand Maiyet was founded by human rights lawyer Paul van Zyl, who strives to merge high fashion and artisan design in perfect union. The resulting pieces aim to fulfil the Maiyet’s girl wanderlust and satisfy her curiosity for a wearable bit of art history. With quiet confidence, Maiyet’s embroidered collection unravels its hand-crafted mysteries to all those who can truly appreciate them.
3. Vita Kin
Long ago in Slavic countries, intricately embroidered blouses were passed down the generations and were carefully worn only on special occasions. This year saw a glorious return of Slavic folklore heritage in all its splendour by the means of a young and bold Ukrainian fashion designer Vita Kin. She took the challenge to place the Ukrainian national costume traditions into modern context and mastered it perfectly at her debut at Paris Fashion Week.
Once, the Vyshyvanka was only a cheerful embroidered blouse; now it represents Vita Kin’s fashion brand, which offers stunning ethnic Ukrainian clothing in bold colours, richly decorated with age-old sumptuous embroideries.
4. Muzungu Sisters
Muzungu Sisters source embroidered pieces that are handmade across four continents. The beauty of their collections is that with every piece, you feel as though you’re taking something exotic home with you; for example, their folkloric dresses, such as that below, are created by female artisans in the Hungarian countryside, whilst the stylish jacket was sourced from the steppes of Pakistan.
Almost 40 years ago, Swedish fashion designer Gudrun Sjödén already knew the secret of the world success: fairytale-like colours and patterns, natural materials and a lot of folklore magic dust. She has stayed true to her bright comfy ethnic style, which is literally timeless, but went even further by introducing organic cotton and sustainable textiles into her collection. Delicate embroidery embellishments on this season’s pieces add certain distinction, which stems from designer’s beloved Scandinavian folklore.